Workers stick to demand for road law amendment

Meeting with home minister today

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:00, Nov 23,2019


Leaders of the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation on Friday said that they would stick to their previous eight-point demands for amendment of the Road Transport Act 2018.

They are scheduled to meet home minister Asaduzzaman Khan today to discuss their demands and would soon announce their next course of action, said the federation’s executive president Shajahan Khan, also former shipping minister, at a meeting on the day.

The home minister would meet the federation about the bus workers just after a day of his meeting with the leaders of goods-carrying vehicle workers where he assured considering their demands for amendment of the new road law.

Meanwhile on Friday, movement of buses on all routes of the country came to normal seven days after transport workers in many districts had observed work abstention without any prior announcement in protest against the new law.

Road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader on Friday claimed that the problems created in the transport sector due to the strike had already been resolved, reports Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha.

‘The transport crisis caused by enforcement of the strike across the country has already been resolved through discussions … all sorts of vehicles started to move normally in the capital and its adjacent areas,’ he said.

He made this statement to journalists while replying a query during his visit to the city’s Suhrawardy Uddhyan to see the preparations for holding the 7th national congress of the Juba League, the youth front of the ruling Awami League.

The new road law came into effect on November 1 more than 13 months after it was passed in the Jatiya Sangsad in September 2018 but road transport and bridges minister twice deferred enforcement of the law for making people aware of it.

Finally the government began implementing the law on November 17 amid work abstention of transport workers in Kushtia and Jashore protesting against the law while the federation leaders claimed that the workers called the programme without taking their decision.

The work abstention later spread to different districts under the Khulna, Rajshahi, Barishal, Dhaka and Chattogram divisions.

On Wednesday Bangladesh Truck and Covered Van Goods Transport Owners and Workers Unity Council had gone on a countrywide strike which they called off early Thursday after a meeting with the home boss.

 In the meeting the minister assured that their demands would be considered and recommendations would be sent to the road transport ministry on their objections to the new law.

Against this backdrop, the announcement of another meeting with the home minister came on Friday, the last day of the federation central committee’s two-day extended meeting held in the capital with Shajahan Khan in the chair.

After the meeting, Shajahan Khan told reporters that they would identify which provisions of the new law should be amended in the discussion with the home minister at his Dhanmondi residence in the capital today in the evening.

He said that they would also talk about their demands at the meeting of a taskforce led by the home minister on Sunday.

The taskforce had been formed in the 27th meeting of the National Road Safety Council on September 5 for bringing back order and reduce accidents on the roads.

Within a day or two, he said, they would organise a press conference to announce their next course of action and reaffirming that they would stick to their demands for amendments of the law.

Shahjahan Khan, however, claimed that they held ‘this routine meeting’ to discuss with the federation’s central leaders but not for discussing the new law.

The federation in a press release issued on Thursday had asked the transport workers to keep calm and drive vehicles keeping trust in its next course of action and not to cause sufferings to people.

The eight-point demands of the federation include: making all road accident cases as bailable and Class V as educational requirement for getting driving licence, cancelling Tk 5 lakh fines for the workers, including a representative of workers in the committee to probe accidents, cancelling punishment including fines at axle load stations.

The other demands are: stopping harassment by police on the roads, system for signatures of relevant workers leaders on the appointment letters of workers during registration of vehicles, and provision for training facilities for workers in all districts before issuing licences and stopping all corruption and irregularities in the system of issuing licences.

On October 31, Shajahan Khan at a press conference on the new law had also demanded not filing cases under section 302 without probe, immediate implementation of the 111-recommendations on road safety and accepting the proposals of the federation for amending some sections of the law.

Meanwhile since Friday morning , long-route bus operations from the capital came to normal as buses left Gabtali, Mohakhali and Saidabad terminals for different destinations as usual.

Buses on long-routes had almost come to a halt since Thursday following work abstention of workers without any prior announcement. 

At Gabtoli bus terminal the number of passengers were moderate while they were seen to get on buses to different districts including Khulna and Jashore.

From Saidabad terminal buses on Chattogram and Sylhet routes were seen to run as usual.

At Mohakhali terminal buses to different destinations in Tangail and Mymensingh were seen to operate as usual since morning.

The New Age correspondent in Khulna reported that all bus services resumed in Khulna region on Thursday night after four days.

Khulna Divisional Motor Sramik Union general secretary Md Zakir Hossain Biplob confirmed that buses left from Sonadanga bus terminal on 18 routes.

The New Age correspondent in Jashore reported that the work abstention of transport workers that had begun in the district on November 17 and later spread to 10 districts in Khulna division came to an end on Friday.

A few numbers of buses ran on the highways and roads in the division

Commuters in Jashore city on Friday told New Age that they had to wait for long to catch a bus to reach their destination on the weekend.

The loading and unloading activities at the Benapole land port resumed on Friday while traffic congestion was seen there on the first day of resumption of transportation.

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